N.C. Highway Historical Marker to Commemorate Greensboro Massacre May 24

Ku Klux Klan activity led to protests in Greensboro

In an event now known as the Greensboro Massacre, five people were killed and 11 injured in a confrontation between the Ku Klux Klan and the Communist Workers Party. A N.C. Highway Historical Marker to commemorate the event will be dedicated May 24 at 4:15 p.m., at New Light Baptist Church, 1105 Willow Rd. After the unveiling at the intersection of McConnell Road at Willow Road there will be a reception at the church. For additional information please call (919) 807-7290.

The event took place Nov. 3, 1979, in the Morningside Homes public housing complex at Carver and Everitt Streets in Greensboro. It occurred after articles appeared in newspapers about a planned "Death to the Klan" march. Communist Worker Party (CWP) members placed notices in the newspapers with the objective of organizing workers in local cotton mills.

Word spread to members of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazis in other parts of the state and many arrived with guns in their trunks. Television crews caught the rapidly unfolding violence. Police arrived after it was over. Killed were Sandi Smith, Dr. Jim Walker, Bill Sampson, Cesar Cauce and Dr. Michael Nathan. Jurors acquitted the defendants who asserted self-defense in state and federal trials. A civil suit in 1985 resulted in a finding for Dr. Nathan and a $351,000 payment by the city to all defendants.

Memories of the event linger in Greensboro and the nation. The community has been redeveloped and the intersection no longer exists. The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2004 reported that "a public monument should be built on the site of the shootings to honor those killed and wounded on November 3, 1979." No such monument has been constructed and applicants contend that a state marker would be an appropriate form of public memory toward that end.

The Highway Marker Program is a collaboration between the N.C. Departments of Cultural Resources and Transportation. The program is administered by the Office of Archives and History in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

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